Areport from Infogrid, Energy Management and the Workplace of the Future, surveyed more than 4,000 U.S. and U.K. respondents to find that employees are highly aware and concerned about energy costs, efficiency, and environmental impact.
Naturally, more employees are concerned with their own energy usage, especially as they continue to work from home. Three-quarters of respondents in the U.S. (74%) are concerned about the impact of the energy crisis on the cost of working from home. Over one-third (37%) of U.S. employees say they have increased the use of facilities away from home, as a result.
A major concern is the impact of extreme weather on energy efficiency. Heatwaves or frigid temperatures spur employees to crank up their air conditioning or heating, respectively. With heatwaves in particular, the report found that 34% of employees spend more hours at work due to high temperatures, especially if they lack air conditioning at home.
Heatwaves were in focus when this study was conducted toward the end of this summer—the third-hottest on record for the U.S., according to says Ross Sheil, Senior Vice President at Infogrid. “We were already hearing anecdotally about people seeing their energy prices go up given how much they needed to use their AC to keep cool during the heatwaves—and that only accounts for homes that have AC,” he says.
Infogrid anticipated that energy costs would be a concern for hybrid workers, but “we couldn’t have anticipated the scale,” says Sheil. “There are three in four hybrid workers in the U.S. telling us they’re concerned about the impact the energy crisis will have on working from home. That’s something employers and facilities managers simply have to take seriously.”
The U.S. Energy Information Administration is forecasting that residential prices of electricity will increase by 8% this year, compared to 2021, reflecting an increase in wholesale power prices. Given this increase, “it’s highly likely we’ll see the number of people concerned about the energy crisis continue to rise,” Sheil adds. “Our findings tell us this concern is already leading to a significant amount of U.S. employees choosing to use facilities outside of their home—even showering at the gym to cut down on their water bill.”
For facility managers looking to bring employees back into the office, rising energy costs may encourage employees to return on their own. Of course, employees will have to weigh commuting costs against home energy consumption.
Reducing Energy Costs In The Office
With this in mind, employers must continue to implement effective energy management strategies to entice more employees to return to the office. Key findings in this study highlight what’s important for employees:
- Workplace energy efficiency matters. A majority of employees (70%) are concerned about the energy efficiency of their workplace.
- Employees judge their employers on carbon footprint. 48% of U.S. employees (and 41% in the U.K.) say their companies don’t do enough to reduce their environmental impact.
- Employees are clear who carries environmental responsibility. Approximately one in four (28%) feel the main responsibility for cutting greenhouse emissions lies with those who manage or run the building. One in five (20%) respondents believe the government should do more through stronger policies and regulation.
- Companies should make workplaces more energy efficient. Over one-third of employees (36%) want their employers to invest in the right digital technologies to improve energy efficiency.
So, how can employees improve their approach to energy management? Sheil say data collection on energy consumption is the first step.
“Sensor technology can help here, but you need to make sure you have a smart platform in place that can analyze the data and enable you to take action off the back of the insights,” he explains. “You also need to automate certain functions in the facility management process to improve energy efficiency. This includes HVAC, pipe monitoring, and more—and will can help save on everything from labor costs to energy bills.”
Once facility executives have made headway creating efficiencies, they should be as transparent as possible with employees. Sheil recommends that facility managers invest in reporting capabilities to share their energy efficiency progress their workforce, and any potential candidates that may be recruited.
“As our study shows, employees do care and even those that know their employers are taking steps are concerned it might not go far enough.”